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Sunday, September 30, 2012

First Three Quarters Real Estate Sales Report - Key West

 I just did a quick review of the real estate sales for the Island of Key West for the first nine months of 2012. Shall we celebrate with a Key West "segar" and some Mumm's champagne?

I did not include any sales on Stock Island, the golf course, or any house, condo, trailer, etc. located east of Cow Key Channel. The reason I did this is that when potential buyers want to buy a place in Key West they tend to resist even looking at anything off the island itself. It usually takes a more open and accepting buyer who wants a real value to agree to look at the golf course, Key Haven, or areas beyond to the east.

There were 166 single family home sales in Key West that closed between January 1, 2012 and today.  Seventeen (17) of those sales were bank owned houses. Most of those houses were in the very bottom of the price range of all houses sold. A couple were absolute disasters. I was given permission to write about one that had serious mold issues. I wrote about another that had been the victim of owner remodeling without building permits. The resulting house was a horrible mess.  I got multiple calls and emails from potential buyers on a bank owned house in the area just east of White Street. That house had been butchered by a former owner who created an outdoor bathroom complete with working toilet but no walls on three sides. (Maybe his wife made him do it.) Another bank owned house at 916 Frances Street was located next door to a popular titty bar.  That property had lots of buyer interest not because of the location but because of the size of the house (2720 sq ft)  but because of the asking price of $282,500. It sold at $260,000 or $152 per sq ft. The pricing reflected the location and condition, but the house was a real value in my opinion, especially to a local. One bank owned property had been on the market for several years as a short sale. That place had been carved up by an owner into three units without the city knowing about it. Somebody thinks they got a good deal because the buyer paid a premium over the asking price. ( I had a buyer who wanted to buy the place, but I talked him out of it. It had way too many legal and structural problems in my opinion.) Finally, the most expensive bank owned house to sell was one located in Truman Annex. That house sold for $2,000,000 in February 2004 and re-sold in May 2012 for $1,700,000.

We had fifteen (15) sales identified as short sales in the same time period. The most notable short sale was the home located in the 400 block of Elizabeth Street which was on the market for 1357 days. It was a gracious and very beautifully renovated home with all the bells and whistles plus the advantage of being located on one of the best blocks in Key West. It sold as a short sale for the price of $1,800,000. Two things happened on February 20, 2012. The listing designation changed from regular "active" listing to "short sale" and the asking price dropped from $2,290,000 to $1,800,000. The property was under contract eight days later. Somebody got a heck of a deal. Good for them.

Twenty-one (21) single family homes sold for over $1,000,000 in the first nine months of this year. The average sales price on a per sq ft basis was $662 for a house with an average square footage of $2575 s.f.  Most of these homes were in the Old Town and Casa Marina areas. The largest sale by dollar amount was a home on Sunset Key that sold for $5,000,000.  It is very interesting to note that five of the over one million dollar sales were only available for a few days before they were snatched up. Those five houses were on the market for an average of 24 days.

There are a lot of potential buyers looking for houses (and condos) in Key West.  Most active agents have a list of buyers who are looking. (Some share the same buyers and don't know it, unfortunately. It really hurts when you find out someone you have been working with has been seeing another agent on the side so to speak.)

If you are a serious buyer looking for a house in Key West you need to set realistic expectations.  I mentioned that I did not include houses at the golf course in my discussion today. That's not because I don't like the golf course, it is because a lot of buyers consider it like living in Big Pine Key. It is not. It is a suburb of Key West. It is a ten minute car ride to Old Town on a normal day.  It is quiet and laid back location. The same is true for Key Haven where most of the homes are located on canals. A few minute car ride could save you thousands of dollars in purchase price and probably provide you with a larger house than you could find in Key West in most instances for a comparably priced home.

Cash buyers still trump buyers who need to borrow to buy a house.  Cash buyers with a lot of cash can sometimes get a helluva deal as compared to buyers who need to finance. The house as 512 Fleming Street with a pool, off street parking, and a transient license sold for $1,080,000, or an $85,000 premium over the asking price. There were multiple cash offers on this property.  If you are a cash buyer and if you are presented with a buying opportunity, you really need to consider using your buying leverage because if you do not, someone else will. And you will be left on the sidelines wishing you had spent a couple of thousand dollars more. 

Non-cash buyers ought to expand their base of housing types and locations to consider. And they ought to realize that there are lots of folks just like them looking a buying a house in an ever-shrinking market. Sometimes buyers think they are the only potential buyer. That is foolish thinking. 

If you are looking to buy a place in Key West and are not working with an agent, please consider contacting me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 or by email at I am a buyer agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty, Inc. in Key West. Let me help you find your place in Paradise. Maybe in a couple of months you'll be the one smoking the segar or sipping the champagne.

1 comment:

Short Sale Florida said...

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Gary Thomas in a Nutshell

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Key West, Florida, United States
I first read about Key West in a magazine called "After Dark" sometime in the mid 1970's. But it wasn't until March 1984 that I made my first visit to the island that would become my home. I had two weeks for a vacation and reserved a room at Colours Guesthouse (now Marrero's Guest House) for one week. I thought that if I didn't like Key West, I could always go back to Miami or Ft. Lauderdale for the rest of my trip. But after a couple of days in Key West, that was no longer a consideration. But when I wanted to extend my stay for the extra week I found there was no room at the inn. The guesthouse owner did find me a room at LaTeDa, the infamous guesthouse/restaurant. That's a story I'll write another day. But those two weeks in Key West gave me the realization that I had found Paradise. Key West has been my home since 1993 and my only regret is that it took me so long to get here. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties CRI. Let me help you find your new home or business in Paradise. Living in Paradise is not a slogan, it's a way of life.